Global Food Myths #4: Is coffee dehydrating the body?

Bernadette Murg, Global Food Myths #4, Coffee, Water

LSG Group experts clarify food myths from around the world – Episode 4 is about coffee and the human body.

It is a popular belief in Central Europe that people who drink coffee should also drink the same amount of water, if not more, to compensate for the loss of fluid. It all stems from the notion that as a diuretic, the caffeinated drink draws excess water from the body. A seemingly logical connection, but is it really true? Bernadette Murg is a dietician at LSG Group and explains the myth.

“It can be true under certain circumstances, but it depends on how regularly you drink coffee,” says Murg. The fact is that coffee beans contain the naturally-occurring alkaloid caffeine. It can also be found in varying amounts in tea, mate, guarana, cola nut and even cocoa. In the stomach and duodenum (a part of the small intestine), it is absorbed relatively quickly by the human body. After 20 to 60 minutes (without influencing factors such as food intake), the maximum blood concentration is reached.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and leads to an increased metabolism, which also affects kidney activity. The organ is better supplied with blood and increased diuresis – also called urination – is possible. Therefore, people who drink coffee regularly get used to caffeine intake and urine is excreted at the usual level. “A glass of water with coffee is not necessary for regular drinkers, but it definitely doesn’t cause any harm,” says Murg.

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide. In 2016, Germans consumed an average of 165 liters of coffee – which is significantly more than mineral water (143 liters) or beer (107 liters). The per capita consumption of green coffee was 5.5 kilograms – only slightly below Italy’s 5.9 kilograms and more than compared to the USA’s 4.2 kilograms. However, first place in coffee drinking belongs to the Finns, who drank a total of 12 kilograms.

The “Global Food Myths” is an ongoing series. We will drill down on a specific urban legend about food, drinks or table culture every Friday. Stay tuned for more!

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